2021 NFL Draft order: Giants No. 2; Cowboys, Patriots in top 10

This is a look at the first-round order for the 2021 NFL Draft heading into Week 9 of the NFL season, along with the top three needs for each team. The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker (click here to see a full list of the draft-order tiebreakers). Keep in mind -- teams 19-32 would make the playoffs if the season ended today and are marked as PL (short for playoffs) in the order below. The draft order for playoff teams is determined by the results of postseason play.

Pick
1
New York Jets
New York Jets
0-8 · .667 strength of schedule

Biggest needs: QB, WR, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Patriots


Sam Darnold has now gone three straight starts without throwing a touchdown pass, the longest such streak of his career, and he's trying to play through a shoulder injury. The guy deserves a fresh start somewhere else.

Pick
2
2
New York Giants
New York Giants
1-7 · .556

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, OT

This week's game: at Washington Football Team


We’re not adjusting the needs yet, but after watching another near-upset dashed by Daniel Jones' miscues, it's getting awfully hard to imagine the Giants passing on a QB if they end up holding a position this high in the draft order.

Pick
3
1
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
1-6 · .450

Biggest needs: QB, CB, OT

This week's game: vs. Texans


Well, this doesn't seem fair. Gardner Minshew will miss next week's tussle with the 1-6 Texans -- aka the Jaguars' best chance to win another game this season -- and a loss could ultimately ensure that Jacksonville will be drafting Minshew's replacement this spring. Unless Luton Lunacy is the new Minshew Mania.

Pick
4
1
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE HOUSTON TEXANS


Texans' record: 1-6 (.640)

This week's Texans game: at Jaguars


See Pick No. 16 for analysis of the Dolphins' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Texans' needs.

Pick
5
2
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
2-6 · .483

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, S, CB

This week's game: vs. Broncos


The Falcons' defense is playing better, which means Matt Ryan has a legitimate shot to quiet rumblings about replacing him with one of the top QBs in the draft. All he has to do is move Atlanta out of the range to land one of them, but the focus next year should be on upgrading the D -- which still ranks 28th in the league -- anyway.

Pick
6
2
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
2-6 · .484

Biggest needs: CB, DT, S

This week's game: vs. Steelers


There are needs at every level of the 32nd-ranked scoring defense, but DT replaces edge rusher on the list this week. The interior is shaping up to be the bigger draft priority with NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reporting the Cowboys' sack leader, edge rusher Aldon Smith -- playing on a one-year deal -- is likely to receive an extension from the team.  

Pick
7
2
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team
2-5 · .491

Biggest needs: QB, WR, OL

This week's game: vs. Giants


Who'll be blocking for whoever is playing quarterback for the WFT next season? There's still a question mark at left tackle following Trent Williams' departure, while starting center Chase Roullier and three-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff are due to hit the market in 2021.

Pick
8
2
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers
2-5 · .519

Biggest needs: Interior OL, TE, WR

This week's game: vs. Raiders


Lost in the Chargers' epic collapses and the excitement about Justin Herbert has been Hunter Henry's quiet campaign. The franchise-tag recipient is on pace to set career lows in yards per catch and TD grabs.

Pick
9
3
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
2-5 · .580

Biggest needs: OL, DT, QB

This week's game: vs. Lions


It's a good day for the Vikings when they don't have to rely on Kirk Cousins, who attempted just 14 passes in Dalvin Cook's romp over the Packers. The problem is good defenses know Minnesota is 0-5 since the start of last season when Cousins has more than 35 attempts.

Pick
10
1
New England Patriots
New England Patriots
2-5 · .654

Biggest needs: Interior OL, DL, WR

This week's game: at Jets


With N'Keal Harry and Julian Edelman out, the Patriots had four active receivers take a snap on offense versus the Bills, all of them former undrafted free agents. New England doesn't have the necessary quality or depth at the position.

Pick
11
4
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
2-5-1 · .534

Biggest needs: OT, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: On bye


Edge rusher replaces receiver on the needs list now that the Bengals have traded away Carlos Dunlap. The pickings at the position opposite Carl Lawson are slim with Sam Hubbard on injured reserve, and Lawson is a pending free agent.

Pick
12
1
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
3-5 · .517

Biggest needs: OL, CB, WR

This week's game: at Chiefs


In the midst of a three-game losing streak, with games against the Chiefs and Bucs up next, the feel-good vibes around the Panthers' surprising start are fading. The most troubling aspect of Carolina's latest loss was the offensive line's struggle to protect Teddy Bridgewater from a Falcons pass rush that was missing its top edge rusher (Takk McKinley).

Pick
13
2
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
3-4 · .549

Biggest needs: WR, DL, LB

This week's game: at Vikings


Kenny Golladay is injured again, taking a big bite out of the Lions' offense. And it will be interesting to see what the offseason brings for the free-agent-to-be, who's coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Even if Detroit keeps him in the fold, there figures to be a void or two to fill at the position with Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola also in walk years.  

Pick
14
2
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
3-4 · .558

Biggest needs: OT, CB, S

This week's game: at Falcons


Justin Simmons, a second-team All-Pro pick last season, is the No. 2 safety in the NFL this season, according to PFF, and has played just about every defensive snap for the Broncos since 2018. Will they get a long-term deal done with their franchise-tag recipient this offseason or potentially have a completely different starting duo at the position in 2022, when Kareem Jackson is scheduled to reach free agency?

Pick
15
2
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
4-4 · .442

Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Packers


After a crushing loss that cost the Niners both Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle, San Francisco could be slipping into the top 10 of the draft order over the next month with four teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today up next on the schedule.

Pick
16
2
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
4-3 · .453

Biggest needs: WR, ILB, interior OL

This week's game: at Cardinals


Tua Time started with a victory on a rough day for the offense. Tagovailoa threw for just 93 yards (his leading receiver was running back Myles Gaskin; three catches for 16 yards) and the offensive line couldn't get much of a push against Aaron Donald and Co. Keep an eye on whether the rookie QB can establish some chemistry with a receiving corps that still appears to be missing a piece.

Pick
17
1
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders
4-3 · .630

Biggest needs: DT, OL, S

This week's game: at Chargers


The Raiders shut the Browns down on Sunday, and they did it without much of a pass rush. Baker Mayfield was pressured on a season-low 12 percent of his dropbacks, and Vegas has a grand total of zero sacks in its last two games. We view the interior D-line as the bigger area of need, but Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock might have to add reinforcements off the edge, too.

Pick
18
5
Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
5-3 · .492

Biggest needs: QB, OG, S

This week's game: at Titans


The Bears have failed to score more than 23 points in each of Nick Foles' five starts -- he's thrown a pick in six straight games (longest active streak) -- and the issues on the interior of the offensive line could be exposed like never before with a date against the Titans' Jeffery Simmons up next.

Pick
PL
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
3-4-1 · .467

Biggest needs: OG, LB, CB

This week's game: On bye


Philly has tried to get by at linebacker by going cheap (only the 49ers spend less at the position, per Over The Cap) for the past few seasons, but 2021 could be the year to change that with a couple of veterans at the position coming off the books.

Pick
PL
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS


Rams' record: 5-3 (.444)

This week's Rams game: On bye


See Pick No. 3 for analysis of the Jaguars' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Rams' needs.

Pick
PL
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
5-3 · .508

Biggest needs: LB, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: On bye


Cleveland hasn't spent a first-round pick on a defender the last two years, but that streak seems likely to end in 2021 with seven of the Browns' defensive starters from Sunday ticketed for free agency.

Pick
PL
Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
5-2 · .349

Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, OT

This week's game: vs. Ravens


The Indy pass rush was ferocious against Detroit on Sunday, sacking Matthew Stafford five times. Edge rusher is on the needs list, though, because the Colts' top three edge rushers for most of this season -- Justin Houston, Denico Autry and Al-Quadin Muhammad -- have contracts that expire in 2021.

Pick
PL
Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
5-2 · .377

Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, interior OL

This week's game: vs. Dolphins


The Cardinals could be shopping for a right guard this offseason with starter J.R. Sweezy (currently on injured reserve with an elbow injury) in the final year of his deal.

Pick
PL
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
5-2 · .412

Biggest needs: WR, interior OL, CB

This week's game: at 49ers


Long thirsting for a playmaking complement to Davante Adams at receiver, it has to bring a smile to Packers fans' faces to hear their team has its eye on the Texans' Will Fuller ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Pick
PL
Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
5-2 · .441

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, TE, WR

This week's game: vs. Bears


The Titans have become, in consecutive weeks, the only team to fail to sack Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Burrow (who plays behind one of the league's worst offensive lines) in a game this season. The Jaguars are the only team with fewer sacks this season. Mike Vrabel has to find some juice for his pass rush, especially off the edge.

Pick
PL
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
5-2 · .528

Biggest needs: Interior DL, OL, edge rusher

This week's game: at Colts


We're shifting interior OL to OL as a need following the contract extension (and injury, unfortunately) for Ronnie Stanley. Starting center Matt Skura's deal is up in the spring, and Orlando Brown, one of the best right tackles in the game, is only a year away from free agency. Are the Ravens going to pay both tackles big money?

Pick
PL
9
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
5-2 · .538

Biggest needs: QB, S, DL

This week's game: at Buccaneers


No team is facing a more daunting cap situation than the Saints next season, per Over The Cap, so there are a lot of things to untangle here before we’ll get a clear picture of their draft needs. That said, there’s no more pressing matter than finding the player who’ll succeed Drew Brees, who continues to find a way to overcome his limitations at 41 years old.

Pick
PL
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
6-2 · .450

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, OT

This week's game: vs. Seahawks


The breather is over for Buffalo's vulnerable pass defense. It was able to hold up versus the punchless Jets and Patriots, but three high-powered aerial attacks await with games against the Seahawks, Cardinals and Chargers lined up.

Pick
PL
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6-2 · .475

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, DT, WR

This week's game: vs. Saints


Should we be replacing WR with RB? The potential loss of pending free agent Chris Godwin looms large, but the Bucs are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry in the last two games and are about to face a defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher for 45 straight games (longest active streak).

Pick
PL
New York Jets
New York Jets

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS


Seahawks' record: 6-1 (.404)

This week's Seahawks game: at Bills


See Pick No. 1 for analysis of the Jets' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Seahawks' needs.

Pick
PL
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
7-1 · .397

Biggest needs: Interior OL, WR, S

This week's game: vs. Panthers


The Chiefs utilize three safeties in their defense, and one of them (Daniel Sorensen, who is tied for the team lead in INTs and tied for second on the team in tackles) is in the final year of his contract. Plus, Tyrann Mathieu has only one year left on his deal.

Pick
PL
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
7-0 · .452

Biggest needs: OT, edge rusher, CB

This week's game: at Cowboys


A suffocating pass rush is at the core of the Steelers' success. As promising as 2020 third-round pick Alex Highsmith might be, I wouldn't stand pat at edge rusher if Bud Dupree doesn't return. 

TEAMS WITHOUT A FIRST-ROUND PICK

Houston Texans
Houston Texans
1-6

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS


Biggest needs: WR, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: at Jaguars


We know height's not everything at the receiver position, but there could be a screaming need for more of it in Houston this spring. Aside from rookie Isaiah Coulter -- a fifth-round pick who was recently activated from injured reserve -- the Texans don't have a wide receiver over 5-foot-11 under contract beyond this season.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
5-3

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS


Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, LB

This week's game: On bye


The Rams don't have a lot of draft capital (or cap space) to work with this offseason. Finding young, cheap help for the offensive line might be essential with starting center Austin Blythe headed for free agency in 2021, when Austin Corbett, Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen will be a year away from having their deals run out.

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
6-1

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK JETS


Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: at Bills


The edge rusher situation is looking a little better after the acquisition of Carlos Dunlap, so corner moves up a rung on the needs list with starters Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar due to hit the market.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter @TheDan_Parr.

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